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01.12.2014 | Brief Research Report | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

International Journal of Emergency Medicine 1/2014

Cerebrospinal fluid lactate level as a diagnostic biomarker for bacterial meningitis in children

International Journal of Emergency Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2014
Eduardo Mekitarian Filho, Sérgio Massaru Horita, Alfredo Elias Gilio, Lise E Nigrovic
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1865-1380-7-14) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contribution

Dr. MF was responsible for study conception, carried out data collection and analysis, as well as manuscript writing and editing. Dr. SH carried out data collection and manuscript editing. Dr. AG was responsible for manuscript writing, study conception and manuscript analysis. Dr. LN was responsible for data analysis, paper writing and manuscript editing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) lactate is a potential biomarker for bacterial meningitis in children. To this end, we performed a single-center retrospective cohort study of children from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with CSF pleocytosis to evaluate the ability of CSF lactate to distinguish between children with bacterial and aseptic meningitis. We determined the optimum cutoff point for CSF lactate using receiver-operator curve (ROC) analysis.


We identified 451 children of whom 40 (9%) had bacterial meningitis. Children with bacterial meningitis had a higher median CSF lactate level [9.6 mmol/l, interquartile range (IQR) 3.2-38.5 mmol/l bacterial meningitis vs. 2.0 mmol/l, IQR 1.2-2.8 mmol/l aseptic meningitis]. A CSF lactate cutoff point of 3.0 mmol/l had a sensitivity of 95% [95% confidence interval (CI) 83-99%), specificity of 94% (95% CI 90-96%) and negative predictive value of 99.3% (95% CI 97.7-99.9%) for bacterial meningitis.


In combination with a validated meningitis clinical prediction rule, the CSF lactate level can be used to distinguish between bacterial and aseptic meningitis in children with CSF pleocytosis.
Authors’ original file for figure 1
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